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tv   Doc Film - Tricks of Memory  Deutsche Welle  December 26, 2017 8:15pm-9:00pm CET

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many kids now come regularly much to their canine friends' delight. we hear at eight of you thought we would put that to a little test and see if lots of our news room dog would enjoy a story lots of what do you think are you a good listener. she's a good girl she's a good girl that's a give me a kiss. maybe not we tried things are being with us here on day eight of the news first day again at the top of the hour for more fiber now. images from an isolated country images from north korea. and italians a target for captured fascinating shots of everyday life in a regimented society. the north korean diary starting december twenty eighth w. .
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memory is a miraculous creation it lets us learn from the past and find pods into the future but it's not a perfect storage device where the truth is concerned memories can be like quicksand false memories and distorted memories and exaggerated memories are going to simply put memory isn't really that for storing information. memory isn't always a private matter often there are contradictory memories of one and the same event then it's argued out in court which version of the story is correct. i want jordan as my witness testimony its importance of court cases. but a bad faulty memory in court can land innocent people behind bars i know how often . and how common it is for people to have these kinds of errors in their memory
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a memory is needed in the witness box your memory will also be tested and tricked during this film how susceptible are our memories to manipulation what does that mean for trials and how can we spot when our recall is just plain wrong. thank you thank. one of the twentieth century's most influential psychologists lives and works on the outskirts of los angeles nobody knows more about the tricks of memory than a lizabeth loftus she was able to prove over the course of many experiments that memories can change as a result of outside influences in fact they can even be completely revised she gave evidence as a witness in countless trials o.j. simpson michael jackson and the war crimes trials following the bosnian conflict
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for getting in might be a good thing sometimes that if we can you know not do well on our sadnesses. maybe live a more optimistic happier life because we are thinking about things that are bringing us down forgetting can have a benefit but sometimes an every day moment only escapes from its normal in significance and becomes an issue of great interest after the fact it mustn't be lost an eye witnesses memory has one big enemy time. a great december day in scotland in one thousand nine hundred eight a bomb exploded in an aircraft belonging to the american airline pan am the boeing crashed over the scottish town of lockerbie all two hundred fifty nine passengers lost their lives most of them americans falling debris killed another eleven people on the ground this attack was to preoccupy the scottish judicial system for
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a long time elizabeth loftus was called in to assist the first person to contact me about this case was a. very famous law professor from harvard who wanted my opinion about some eyewitness testimony in the case and when he first gave me materials about the case he actually blacked out the. specifics only one man was convicted thirteen years after the attack loftus didn't get to speak in court at the time but in two thousand and thirteen she published a scholarly article that asked whether faulty memories put an innocent person in prison. over and over again one eyewitness tony gouty a shop owner from mortar was question in a place like this one. his memory was milked until it delivered the results that
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was so important for the judicial machinery items of clothing discovered at the scene of the crime had let the investigators to go out cheese shop they had come from the suitcase containing the bomb. the shopkeeper was first interviewed about nine months afterwards but he just gave a description he did not make any identification at that at that relatively early time. she confirmed in this first interrogation that he had sold items of clothing to a libyan man prior to the attack the customer hadn't been picky he bought every item suggested also got he said in his statement first he said the suspect was more than six feet tall he said the suspect was fifty years old. he said and not me could remember a number of things this first unadulterated memory doesn't match the man who was
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later sentenced how is that possible by him with eyewitnesses actually lawing plays a minor role unless they're somehow involved themselves and they try hard but still make mistakes on monday no feeling yes no every time we recall a memory it changes slightly it's a bit like chinese whispers but you're playing it with yourself you often remember the last time you recalled the memory you'll recall is itself a memory of the shop owner was constantly confronted with photographs of suspects years after the crime he finally pointed to the photograph of one man who looked very similar to his customer albeit ten years too young photo number eight depicted omega. he the head of security for libyan airlines at the time he said this number eight is similar he said he just said so all are but it was and that's why at best
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you could call it a tentative identification by then photographs of him a car he was already in the press. have you know when it was covered a lot in the media so we run the risk of mixing in everything we've read and seen and heard so that there are now countless errors in our memory feeling that's quite different from your forgetting. during a later line up the eyewitness may only have recognize the person from the photographs his memory linked to this face with his original recollection of the customer in his shop. it doesn't just leave an imprint in the mind and you play it back later but actually that the memory is malleable and it can be changed and altered transformed by new things new information that the witness is exposed to this became known as the misinformation of fact elizabeth loftus
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has proved this effect in countless scientific studies now you will be able to participate in one of these experiments you're going to become an eyewitness. watch carefully and follow the instructions you're going to see three faces in succession remember these faces we will ask you to identify them later. very good let's practice identifying this person think about whether you saw this person from the left or from the right. only one picture is correct the left one or the right one.
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again left or right. now your an eye witness make a final choice do you remember the person on the left or on the right. left is correct you're very likely to have known that. once again do you recognize the person on the left or on the right you'll know that two. the correct answer is the right time person. what about these two left or right. the correct answer is right but around hof of you will have picked the wrong person
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this time why. what happen is that during that interval of time between the study and the test i messed with their memory i substituted a different face. than the one was act that was actually shown it was similar but it was different and a completely novel face and asked them to choose and they picked the similar face but it was from the wrong face so later on they stuck with that wrong face many of them. it was a demonstration where with a post of an activity that messes with their memory you can make people it could be completely inaccurate toss them out and unfortunately we still treat witnesses in court as if they had computerized memories as if they were like
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a video tape that you can take off the shelf and play even three months later. and see the same thing come to us then it's on course. in the year two thousand and nine years after the first i did for cation of the photograph tony couch he was asked in court whether he recognized his customer and therefore the alleged perpetrator. he said yes that's the guy by the time he's looking at a lineup and he makes an alive identification he he's more confident and i believe that confound. this was expressed at trial and al mcgrath he was convicted this statement twelve years after the a legit encounter in a shop in malta played a crucial role in the guilty verdict on the ground he was given a life sentence in two thousand and nine he was released on compassionate grounds because he had cancer he died three years later he protested his innocence until
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his death the crime was horrific two hundred fifty nine people were on the plane they died a level people were on the ground they died. it may be that all my groggy too should be added to that list of victims. elizabeth loftus says dilemma is that she doesn't provide any evidence for a conviction her research only feeds doubt about the truth of a memory that's why she's often be called the patron saint of criminals. they call me all kinds of names i mean the u.n. when you're challenging somebody who's cherished beliefs and and and even their livelihood. some of them are going to get mad and mad they're going to fight dirty they're going to call you names and i guess you know that just goes with the territory.
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max stella is one of germany's most distinguished her and six psychologists at the center for witness statement psychology in berlin he researches methods to assess the truth of witness statements stella has been called as an expert witness in countless sexual abuse trials he works in the public eye. why doing two things. always satisfied me greatly there's the criminal and that's always like a crossword puzzle you want to find the right answer that's intellectually exciting and stimulating the second thing is that you can help the inquiry on to the correct course in these terrible situations meaning you can help the right side get justice
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. for him. in the ninety's his expert testimony during the trials of volume has created an uproar these trials in the city of holmes concerned large scale child abuse steller found out that the children's memories of the acts had no real basis in fact the case ended with all twenty five accused being acquitted of these trials were all of the vinyl but they were also very instructive it was throw down on that the topic of suggestion attracted the attention of professionals and advice centers and expert opinion papers. the accusations had come about because of the very ten dishes questioning of the children in the advice centers over the course of the investigation the children incriminated more and more adults in their environment. and what very few people think about is that this mistake can go so far that you really believe you experienced something in the past that never happened. in the ninety's there was an increased push in therapy rooms like this
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one to look for suppressed memories of abuse including among adults the idea was to uncover childhood traumas so patients could be healed. these are clear on who knows the explanation for recapturing a memory is that there was a traumatic event and the idea is that traumas on remember that we hear him out that they're not stored properly by have no no in fact they're just there and fragments but they can be brought together into a coherent whole written into a memory through therapy going. and to a man known to some jews that working with memories is an important part of trauma therapy psycho therapist. has been treating traumatized people for decades his work is often about ordering fragments of memory. is good and vital aspect home
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form for games when there's a broad spectrum of approaches to identify fragmented broken film so that we can look at it in detail and take away the fear the path to. move placed three cause we can look at these things in a diesel aerated way. intro line a path to. if a memory of abuse appears all of a sudden nothing's the same for anyone anymore and that includes the accused but what if it's a false memory that the mind has created all on its own the case of door is one example we've changed the details of the case to protect all those involved coming here to contact the family contacted me after the accusations had been made. the father had been accused of abusing his daughter. as there was talk of five or six incidents which went on until she was five and i saw talking stuff on
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the earliest case was before she was two on the changing table i'm taking cash the daughter a public service employee had previously suffered from burnout and depression and had sought help. how to offer. i hope she went to an alternative practitioner because she apparently didn't want the help of the police don't. ya can use a copy of this therapy when john and that's when communication slowly got was. long question stopped. cummins runs fulls memory germany she has advised around two hundred parents usually fathers who feel falsely accused by their children the children's memories of abuse almost always come to light during therapy the phenomenon has been observed to around twenty five years
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starting in the united states therapists often cite to sigmund freud's theories of suppressed childhood traumas what we then began to see is all these people coming out of this psychotherapy with these newfound memories of years of her riffing abuse for the ninety's you know i don't know yes people were certainly going to therapy but the therapist had different ideas about what caused your problems it wasn't a history of sexual abuse that was the immediate explanation at earlier times maybe it was in the refrigerator mother the actual truth of a memory often plays no role in therapy. no not in my therapy sessions on often have the goal of making something bearable whether it's true or not is second rate enigma it may be important to patients but it could be that the patient says i
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don't know if it's true or not i certainly hope that the best way i can live on is with this kind of memory good but that doesn't necessarily mean all rediscovered memories of sexual abuse are incorrect therapists are convinced that traumatic events can have a big influence on the way our memory works. and addition. vague memories and the inability to remember the results of the crime but there's a question isn't there any in direct consequence for that and that is used against you in trials when you're an adult. so. important discovery or reckless suggestion the potentially huge number of underscored cases of abuse has made this question a hotly debated one and half you know i mean i'm not questioning the phenomenon in general it's just that these memories come back differently from how they're described in these cases they tend to come back quickly and completely the reader
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can a lot of i know colleagues who say they can tell if someone was abused or not after having seen them twice as long you have inhuman i don't know about that in your terms popcorn is due to all of the sentiments could have come about in a different way in that inch guns on. the trial of dogs father was abandoned the investigators said that some of the memories of abuse that she described in detail dated back to a period in very early childhood so early that brain research has ruled them out. unless you are infantile early childhood. or infantile and easier on means we say in empirical science that we don't remember anything before where three or four what i feel young he talks but the woman in question maintains her memory is correct the family remains split so it and the parents are suffering dreadfully
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they're getting older and they love their daughter they want things to go back to how they were she was a cheerful girl that cheerfulness is gone she suffered. how can the brain create complex and rich memories. the answer's quite positive with associations and imagination in agadir his four memory research there's a classic test called de r.m. named after the scientist disk roediger and mcdermott this test is about lists of words what list. let's do this test here and now we're about to read some words to you remember as many of the most possible bed rest awake tired dream a waking night blanket dozing slumbering snoring
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pillow. yet we often fill gaps in with what we have experience with things that we didn't experience because we assumed it must have happened like that as opposed to the skirt that's. now we're going to show you a list of words and want you to think about which ones you've just heard. most of you will remember these five words but if you also remember the word sleep your brain tricked you that word wasn't on the list. them systematised where the test subjects choose these target words here that hours they were never on the list but they just assume they must be missing in
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a list of events and. the power of the imagination and the willingness to turn outside information into memories of our own who could be more susceptible to that than children in the autumn of two thousand match tello was asked to comment on the case allowed for a girl who was six at the time her memories didn't change during therapy they had been manipulated in the family living room by her own well intentioned parents stella sees this case as a perfect example of how false memories are made. of verse and regional court reached a terrible in correct verdicts and the supreme court had very strong words to say that going on is what happened in the case of little louka lauer that's not her real name was living with her cousins who had fled with their mother from their
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alcoholic father when lauer and her cousins were found playing doctors and nurses lauer's father had a terrible suspicion. there are hundred and he had the impression that more must have happened than just playing doctors you hear so much in the media about sexual abuse he decided with the help of the two mothers to systematically question all three of the children. so her. max stella was only called to the case later on he was allowed to view the file when according to my great surprise there was a diary in the foyer of the adults had kept meticulous records of their interrogations laura's father had used the two women as secretaries for every evening he dictated what had been asked and answered kind of half of us think i'm for not armed. the diaries document in detail the efforts of the children to confirm the parents' suspicion. of the ounces started with a boy who had once seen
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a man in a playground who had pulled out his penis. the older boy said something about a lesson in school. from the heat and. these interrogations went on for several months then little by little memories of abuse really did appear the focus here was on the father of the two boys who had been left alone after a family quarrel. so it went so far that the children gave very vivid descriptions of abuse all three children together or one child was made to abuse another and these three adults took the children out of their money and they put more and more ideas into their heads these children weren't lying in the traditional sense and they weren't just parroting the words they had been given. as in for they developed false memories they've really believed something happened to know why it was
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shameful and now there isn't an isolated case just like in germany there had been an increase in the number of false memories of child abuse in the united states when society finally woke up to a problem that had long been ignored. all around the country the stake here cases these kids kiddie cases involving kids you know three years old four years old saying these wild things would crop up and people working is everywhere at around the same time german advice centers and therapists increasingly started looking for memories of abuse. and here too some children left these meetings with memories that hadn't been there before. to distinguish between false memories and real ones courts use criteria defined by witness statements psychology. skin tone it's about the credibility of the truth content of the experience background of
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a statement or is it really a reflection of something that actually happened only to just. how detailed and coherent is the statement how intelligent are the witnesses could they have made up part of a story is the statement the result of a lot of therapy or did it show up like this five years earlier too was the witness question in a neutral open manner these characteristics define a witness's credibility in court and if i take the time before bombs ninety to ninety five percent of statements were credible then came the observed investigations and the credibility rate went down not because our method had changed but because this nonsense or spread around in public and repeated in many advice centers and clinics one on a. clinic in his own home a matter of all. you can really
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children's lives are destroyed families are destroyed all because of well meaning people it really makes me crazy door to underfund. in lauer's case the court initially believed the children statements the accused was sent. as to five years in jail it wasn't until the case went to appeal that the false memories were identified in stella's report and the conviction was squashed. stella and his colleagues face a lot of opposition because their work can cast doubt on statements made by witnesses but he doesn't seem selfless someone who protects criminals they have been i'm i'm responsible in total for around one hundred years of prison time for sexual abuse cases of dimple cases where my reports played a role when the man who i don't have a bad conscience these accusations are ideologically motivated and people don't
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want to believe that there could be false statements in this field void and doesn't but they're not deliberate. they're based on false memories of correctness in the home of one of china. but. the truth gets left behind when false memories unfold in the courtroom but do these memories only ever affect the actions of others. the way perpetrators also remember things wrongly is the subject of research being carried out in london. judea sure is a rising star in memory research. and they wish that when we say research is me so much my autobiographical memory isn't very good as
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a result i thought others must have the same problem i wanted to understand both myself and others better and that in. the london based german canadian is highly sought after. she teaches. criminology at southbank university and advises both the british police and the german army. for a current study of the ways false memories are created she went a big step further than her colleagues she gave her test subjects' memories of crimes they were supposed to have committed themselves. to us and i did those in a room where i always looked very professionally i had a bookshelf full of books about retrieving childhood memories in that long can that deafness and there were lots of open books if you looked around my lab you'd think i really was doing what i said i was doing. the
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sixty test subjects believe this was about them improving their childhood memories the academic look of the rooms had its own suggestive effect. and i wrote to the parents of my test subjects and asked about a real emotional event that took place between the ages of eleven and fourteen. and i asked about the names of the test subjects best friends at that age now to now in front of us and file formal politician efforts and yeah i asked where they lived and does it it has have it and not i used these details and wove them into a false memory in which i suggested to them what they had done in the strata happy to see it as if it had happened so that you yourself for it. when you were fourteen years of unishe you get a physical fight in the police culture. i don't like i don't know if. that's why i
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don't feel like i've never. sure suggested that the parents told her about the servant but that the participants would have to remember on their own. does it ever turn. protests. process largely copied the interrogation techniques that police officers use when they're talking to victims or suspects title what i met up fun order myths . and just like eye witnesses the participants of the study claim to remember the deed. i don't like calling it suppression but sometimes you put bad memories to one side think about whether you can remember it and then there is a pause. then she started her search for the hidden suddenly lost memories the imagination and the memory work closely together fragments of
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memories and the details short invented were transformed into a coherent remembered story. what a mess the interview after the first interview how the first time i sat with the test subjects they usually had one or two details but maybe none for light but the seed was planted that this event might have occurred then they came back to the lab and i did this imagination exercise again and slowly i got more details than mere meditates i can maybe remember getting it like a verbal fight with someone maybe our first son. but we might have had a conversation where i was like no i didn't start it or i feel like she. pushed me first ok sharing memories is a social activity and and are one of the ways that our memory gets
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distorted ears because we do share and you share it with different audiences it works just the same outside the lab julia shores test subjects continue developing their memories at home either alone or in conversations with others and they have the other aspect of they came back a week later for a final interview and suddenly the story it was transformed it felt very different had to split a mess and go for it is like a kind of like a fire kind of thing. and we'll. see myself wearing this. oh you're definitely drinking it. showed up and we were kind of having. him here. and. i feel like i was thinking oh i didn't star in every single is said made the test subject spoke about what had suppose if they happened to why they gave reasons and described emotions and
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details more than fifty details on average it has some of these memories more human and she. sure had a seventy percent success rate but implanting false memories of a crime much to her own surprise in a deep briefing she helped her test subjects get rid of their false memories again . if there are so many ways in which false memories can be created how can we even begin to trust our memory in court is it possible to measure the difference between real and false memories. the renowned german brain scientist hans markovitch is examining just that he showed his test subjects several short films sequences and asked them to remember them. done. immediately after showing the films we put the test subjects into an m.r.i.
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we showed them various pictures on a screen when there were pictures that had been in the film. the other pictures weren't in the film so the involve us. on the around forty five percent made false stay put in ma and they said the picture had been in the film even though it hadn't with time or the other way around what time are and critical and when they were right then this prefrontal cortex was activated. if they were wrong and the area in the visual. so ca shin area in the visual cortex was activated to not be tough to force then knocked. the data is still inexact but that's more a matter of technical development says hans markovitch so minister. could three become possible in the future just to measure brain activity to find out whether
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someone is remembering correctly or not. to go in not what i feel like in not nevertheless many psychologists have fundamental doubts about whether that could be possible there is some support for the idea that you might be able to show a somewhat different neural signal when somebody is telling the truth versus telling a lie but the problem with the false memory is people believe it so it is their truth and those bring scans they can't reliably discriminate between a true memory and a false memory so they're not going to be useful for that purpose not not for a long long time the research into false memories will continue there is some initial attempts at using the positive aspects. somewhere along the line i got the idea that while i wonder could we plan a warm fuzzy memory of let's say about
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a healthy food maybe people would want to eat it more and we did that with asparagus elizabeth loftus gave her test subjects a false memory about loving asparagus and this did indeed manifest itself during a dinner hosted by the scientists the manipulated participants were more likely to help themselves to asparagus than the control group now i'm starting to see that if you can affect people's nutritional choices maybe make a dent in the obesity problem in our society by planting false memories and make people avoid fattening foods and embrace healthy foods maybe there's a way to to put this mind manipulation to some good use this can even work when the subject is aware of the manipulation creating a false memory incomplete awareness that saw final experiment. i'm going to convince the view is of something to. follow junior shores instruction and eat less
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story ice cream this is the saddest end of fights and if you want to give yourself a false memory there's a very simple method you can use if you want to stay away from a food for example you just have to imagine a bad experience with this food stands imagine you're in an ice cream parlor and you're ordering strawberry ice cream you eat it and you're sick your family is worried you feel increasingly sick imagine details of all the senses what is what did you see why were you so sick where were you sitting what did you take us to if you repeat this false multisensory experience you're more likely to stay away from ice cream in the future of. but who wants that what's more the new false memory would have to battle against the many real memories of how enjoyable ice cream is countless represent consider force memories
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a weakness that it through credibly important to have false memories it's much more fluid social if we can talk to each other and take on details from other people and incorporate them in our own memory these details are often correct even though they didn't originally come from ours. were. memories aren't set in stone although that would make the work of the police and the courts easier our memory is soft and malleable it has gaps and these gaps are filled with imagine events a little louder only became an apparent victim of abuse following the interrogations by whole well meaning parents. door and her family still suffering today the court dismissed the charge because of suspected false memories she's
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still in therapy you feel these healers who took a three week course and now call themselves that are opposed speakers that term is only protected in very limited circumstances there that take your lowly dangerous for your truth status. that's a problem for the justice system which has to rule on questions of innocence and guilt but even within the judicial system the desire for results has an enormous suggestive power and the ability to develop a memory of having committed a crime oneself isn't only possible under look poetry conditions and metaphor and it is does that my research is about false confessions it's obvious to me how easy it is to get people to confess to things they didn't do that sometimes just not accepted when you speak with police officers or research into false recall has caused many scientists to become advocates of doubt as was the case in the
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lockerbie trial they are confronted with the real consequences of their insights as experts they remind us of a fundamental tenet a law legal system it's better to let ten guilty people go free than to convict one innocent person and and. that's why we have a system where there's a presumption of innocence doubt about the credibility of memory makes it harder for courts to accept eyewitness evidence but sometimes it makes the legal system more credible and strengthens it those falsely accused need a strong legal system just as much as the victims of crimes do memory is malleable and this is a lesson that these innocent people time in prison learn the hard way because they really learned that that memory like liberty is a fragile thing. she
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cost. me. yes. this is it's a kind of culture. to miscellaneous phenomena. but one. of. their family unbelievable. d.w. . beat the germans new and surprising aspects of license culture in
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germany. us american keep music takes a look at germany existing chrissy's at their traditions every day lives and language. so i'm. good to. d.w. dot com the germans. film the system to entice current ios came from jurors or didn't mean anything at all they killed many civilians. come including my father so i was a student i wanted to build a life for myself. but suddenly life became malinche kind of sob. providing insights for global news that matters d. w. made for minds.
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the state of the news coming to live from berlin russian president vladimir putin has cleared the first step towards another term in office as backers have supported his bid to become an independent candidate this comes a day after his biggest critic the lexing of only was born.

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